Azumanga Daioh Vol. #5 -

Anime/Manga Reviews

Mania Grade: A-

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  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: A
  • Packaging Rating: B+
  • Menus Rating: B
  • Extras Rating: B-
  • Age Rating: 13 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: ADV Films
  • MSRP: 29.98
  • Running time: 100
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Azumanga Daioh

Azumanga Daioh Vol. #5

By Chris Beveridge     October 04, 2004
Release Date: October 12, 2004

Azumanga Daioh Vol. #5
© ADV Films

What They Say
The annual class shuffle leaves a frightened Kaorin marooned in Mr. Kimura’s homeroom: hopeless, helpless, and worst of all... Sakaki-less! Back in Miss Yukari's class, a trip to Okinawa brings plenty of laughs, along with several firsts for the girls: first flight, first scuba dive, and - most importantly for Sakaki - the first chance to see iriomote cats in the wild!

Then, with University exams just around the corner, Chiyo's beach house becomes a seaside study hall... just as long as Tomo and Yukari behave! And the girls' last sports fest promises to be the biggest yet - with a myriad of competitions, including a relay race that pits Yukari and Minamo in a thrilling head-to-head battle!

Who will get the victory and final bragging rights? Can Sakaki meet a cat without hurting herself?

Sharpen your pencils and sign up for the fifth relentlessly rowdy, laugh-out-loud volume of Azumanga Daioh!

The Review!
The Azumanga class heads into their third year and deals with some of the same trials and tribulations but also some new ones.

For our primary viewing session, we listened to this show in its English dubbed format. The English track for this release sports a good 5.1 mix, though the majority of the audio is still through the center channels. There are a few kicks back to the rear speakers and if you're close enough to them you'll get a couple of good moments from them. Dialogue throughout the show is well done with some good placement and no dropouts or distortions during regular playback. We spot checked the Japanese language track and noticed no issues there either.

Originally airing in 2002, Azumanga has a gorgeous transfer for the most part. Presented in its original full frame aspect ratio, the show is rich with vibrant colors and lots of sections with large swathes of solid colors that maintain a solid feel. In particular, the pinks of the school uniforms look fantastic, nice and solid and warm. Cross coloration is blissfully absent and there's only some minor aliasing throughout. Most of the aliasing comes from segments in the opening with the replaced credits since some of it seems a little stilted at times, but something that's barely noticeable for most people.

Done up in a clear keepcase, the cover is simple and eye-catching with an all-white backdrop with a shot of Kagura doing her best to keep her skirt down during the bounce with the large logo and volume number around her. This fits with the opening sequence nicely (since it's basically from there) and gives you something simple and cute to look at as well as a good series of consistent looking covers. The back cover provides a rundown of the premise, several shots from the show and an array of information scattered all over. The reverse side of the cover, which is sort of reversible, has a full two sided spread of a few of the girls in swim class with Tomo nailing Chiyo with the paddle board and Nyamo freaking out. It's a great piece and very cute to look at. The included booklet is great, with several pages worth of translator notes and detailed explanations of some of the puns that are hard to translate as well as comments from the Japanese staff and a few pages of full color Kagura, Yukari and Kimura designs and outfits. Even Kamineko gets a few shots!

The main menu is a cute piece that utilizes elements from the opening sequence and the same style with a shot of Sakaki with her finger in the cats' mouth as she tries to shake it off set to a brief bit of catch instrumental music. Episode selections are lined along the top and the other selections along the bottom. Scene selections are nicely laid out in that they let you go to each of the individual episodes within the episode. Access times are nice and fast and the layout is easy to navigate and use.

The extras are pretty minimal with this volume with just a series of production sketches in addition to the standard clean opening and closing sequences being provided.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Azumanga enters its third year class and in a way, much like the second year material, goes back to the same well for some of it but runs with it in a different way. The sports festival, which is their last in high school, is an example of this since it doesn't run anywhere near as similar to the first or second year ones.

The start of third year brings in a few amusing moments. One of them is just watching Osaka trying to make it all the way up to the third floor where all the students for her grade now are. If she can't make that… Everyone's back together this year with the exception of Kaorin who ended in another class. This is very unfortunate for Kaorin as she ends up in Kimura's class and his utter fascination with her is just creeping her out to the extremes. He even goes so far as to create a little flower garden with his and her name as the caretakers for it. His style of utter silence to screaming comes into play when he nominates her for class president as well. Kimura's freaking weird in general but with Kaorin now in his grasp he's going to all new levels.

One of the best sub stories that played out in this volume involved the entire birthday saga. When Nyamo gets a birthday present from her class, Yukari goes completely ballistic in her own way. I loved the way she dealt with it by doing her work on the chalkboard and everything associated with it. It all even ends on one of the creepiest Kimura moments yet.

A nice change of pace is the class getting to do a school trip this year, which is especially important to Chiyo-chan since she skipped so many grades and school trip opportunities. Now that she gets to go one she's all excited about it and spends plenty of time up until it getting in a tizzy about it. The trip takes them all down to Okinawa and in groups of six, which means our favorite group can't ditch Tomo this time around. There's a lot of sightseeing and all sorts of visual gags and a number of language related jokes due to the localized dialects. Osaka gets to have a lot of fun down here and plays up some of her knowledge of the area and the specialty foods there. Yukari joins each of the groups in turn and goes diving with the girls in one of the more laid back and simply enjoyable pieces. It's a hard episode to explain its appeal since it's all about the way these characters interact with each other, even Tomo with her Chinsuko! screaming.

Entrance exams also make up an episode on this volume and that has Tomo suggesting everyone go to Chiyo-chans beach house to do the studying over the break. Though it's a thinly veiled attempt to get back onto the beach and have fun, Nyamo and Yukari are up for the event and they all head out there. The trip out there alone is priceless with Chiyo-chan ensuring that she's in Nyamo's car. Yukari's driving is just a beautiful thing that must be seen. The study sessions are quite comical as each is frustrated in their own ways and even Yukari gets to lord things over Nyamo a bit.

Azumanga continues to be a show that's difficult to describe in why it's funny at times and why it's appealing. The character interactions and the slow camera panning and still reaction shots account for a lot of the humor, something that's very different from all the hyper-active comedies that are out there these days. The show has quite a number of cultural references as well and will test those who follow that side of Japan as well as the anime. The more well rounded you are about Japanese culture, both historical and popular, the more fun this show will be and the repeat value goes up as you watch and learn more over the years. Tomo in particular had me dying with this episode with her haircut and Chiyo-chan's question to Yomi about it, which is done without sound, so it wasn't an explained gag in the show. Tomo even goes a step further with her comparisons of herself to not only Fujiko but to Ayu. Any comparisons of Tomo to Ayu are just plain wrong. Poor Ayu.

In Summary:
Azumanga Daioh's a lot of fun in general and as the "years" wear on, I've been enjoying how they've been playing with the repetitious nature of high school years and the way they're able to present different aspects of it each time. Third year is a lot of fun and more time is given over to other activities and time away from school which is a good change of pace. The comedy feels a bit tighter here and the pacing worked really well with the gags used, from saatama andagii to the driving lessons the girls get.

Japanese 2.0 Language,English 5.1 Language,English Subtitles,Clean Opening,Clean Closing,Production Art

Review Equipment
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Zenith DVB-318 Progressive Scan codefree DVD player via DVI with upconversion set to 720p, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.


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